Report: Federal Regulatory Tax Reaches $1.88 Trillion

Published May 14, 2015

The 2015 edition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Ten Thousand Commandments reveals the tremendous, growing “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state. The report indicates a $1.88 trillion hit to Americans consumers and the U.S. economy in 2014 due to federal regulations and intervention.  The report analyzes the size, scope and cost of federal regulations, how they affect the American public, and offers recommendations for how members of Congress can increase transparency and accountability when it comes to new and existing federal regulations. 

The author, CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. said, “The federal government’s reach extends well beyond Washington’s taxes, deficits, and bor­rowing” 

“Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations affect the economy to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars annually,” said Crews. “Regulatory compliance costs borne by businesses find their way into the prices that consumers pay, limit workers wages, and lead to lower levels of growth and prosperity.”

Impacts Revealed

Among the impacts the 2015 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments details are: 

•Economy-wide regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household – around 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100. Although not paid directly by individuals, this “cost” of regulation exceeds the amount an average family spends on health care, food and transportation. 

•In 2014, agencies issued 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws. That’s a pace of 16 regulations for every law.

•Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed what the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes for last year—by more than $160 billion.

•The 2014 Federal Register contains 77,687 pages, the sixth highest page count in its history. Among the six all-time-high Federal Register total page counts, five occurred under President Obama.

 For Crews it is critical that legislators and agency heads recognize the harmful impact of the rules they impose have upon the the economy. “Policymakers and regulators fail to recognize that, while businesses want to ‘create jobs,’ to the extent business owners are burdened by unpredictable regulations coming their way, job creation becomes more difficult and company expansion more limited.”

 H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.